We have added more photos to the Ecuador album...enjoy!
When we woke up at the high altitude of Quilotoa it was cold. I shuffled over to the bathroom and turned the left tap on the shower...ice cold. Most of the guesthouses here that have hot water use tankless heaters. Well aware of how tankless heaters work I waited a few more seconds...still cold. Damn, it would be a no-shower day.
Over a breakfast of eggs, bread, jam, fresh fruit juice and instant coffee we talked with fellow travelers at the guesthouse. One solo French woman we met now has the record of being the most traveled person we have met. She is in her early sixties and her face is well worn with deep crows-feet emanating from the corners of her eyes. She told us that ten years ago she went traveling for 6 months. Every year since she has been traveling again – each time a bit longer than the last. This year she returns to France for only 5 weeks!
After breakfast we put on all of our layers, hat and gloves and headed out with our travel companions; Simon and Rachel - a friendly couple from the UK, and Emilie and Michael – a couple from France who were married on the same day as Penny and I and were on their honeymoon too!
The walk from Quilotoa to the village of Chugchilan is about 4 to 5 hours. The trail leads down from the crater rim across a valley and up the other side. We had decided to do the walk with no guide. We had two sets of directions. The guidebook warns of persistent guides at the trailhead so I was on the lookout...but the only person we saw was a slow moving old man who pointed us in the right direction.
The walk took us through some spectacular landscapes of thickly forested cliffs, terraced fields, steep switchbacks down near vertical cliffs, over small rivers and through a village so small it had no place to eat (but the shopkeeper was kind enough to make us cheese sandwiches). We got lost a few times but always ended up back on the right trail. Have a look at the photos.
We arrived in Chugchilan tired but satisfied. We stayed at Mama Hilda's guesthouse - a friendly place with nice rooms and private bathrooms (with hot water this time!).